After a cavalry charge during the 1916 U.S. "war against Pancho Villa," unheroic awards officer Tom Thorn (who is obsessed with the nature of courage) recommends 4 men for the Medal of Honor. He is ordered back to Cordura with them...and prisoner Adelaide Geary, gringo who sheltered the enemy. On the arduous journey, Thorn's heroes show a different face, and Thorn may have one last chance to prove he's no coward. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a 1960 interview John Wayne criticized this film and Montgomery Clift's Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), both of which treated homosexuality (in this film because of an implied homosexual relationship between the characters played by Gary Cooper and Tab Hunter), as "poison polluting Hollywood's moral bloodstream." The latter, he said, was "too disgusting even for discussion." See more »
Major Thorn improperly salutes Colonel DeRose in the opening scene when he dismissed. He should have saluted and held his salute until it was acknowledged. Instead, he lowers his arm even before Colonel Rose acknowledges it. See more »
We're chasing one man, Pancho Villa, over some of the wildest country on earth. You can quote me as saying that the Punitive Expedition U.S. Army has him completely surrounded... on one side.
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They Came to Cordura is one of the very few films I've seen about our intervention in Mexico after Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico and shot the joint up. President Woodrow Wilson authorized our intervention under the command of John J. Pershing who went on to a more serious military intervention shortly.
It was a real comic opera affair. We fought a few skirmishes, chased Villa around halfheartedly, even the Mexican government under President Venustiano Carranza was against us even though Villa was very much against him. It was over with few casualties.
In the initial raid on Columbus in our story, Gary Cooper froze under fire and hid in a railroad ditch. Because his father was a big shot in the army and was killed there, Cooper's actions were covered up and he was given the non-combat assignment of awards officer.
So on a raid on Mexican sympathizer Rita Hayworth's ranch where some Villistas have taken cover, Cooper's job is to find worthy candidates for medals. He finds Van Heflin, Richard Conte, Tab Hunter, Michael Callan, and Dick York. His job is then to bring them back to the American base in Cordura.
The journey reveals the less than sterling character of these men of courage. Quite a bit happens on the way to Cordura, some of it a little too unbelievable for me.
This was one of Gary Cooper weakest films in his last years. He is horribly miscast, he's way too old for the part he's playing. He's 58 when this film is made and shows every bit of it. The film mentions his father being killed at Columbua, he must have been 80 if he was still on active duty. Someone like Montgomery Clift should have been in his role.
Director Robert Rossen doesn't have a tight grip on the rest of the cast, they all overact outrageously. Of course since the whole story is rather incredulous, what else were they to do.
For fans of Cooper and Hayworth only.
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